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Women’s Task Force Urges Attention to Woman Lawyer and Rights Under Threat for Pursuing Honor Killings of Two in Pakistan

Via Asian Human Rights Commission

9 June 2014 – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the life of a lady lawyer and human rights defender is under threat for pursuing the murder case of two women who were killed in the name of honour. The murderers quickly tried to bury the bodies claiming that they both committed suicide after the exposure of their illicit relations. The local politicians from the ruling party used high police officials to stop the court order of the exhumation of the bodies. The lawyer was threatened to keep away from the case.

The killers have made several attacks on the lawyer’s chambers and threatened that if she pursues the case she and her children will not be spared. The killers told her that killing one more woman would not increase the sentence for killing two already. The police and courts have ignored the threats to the lawyer.

Ms. Munaza Bukhari, advocate and prominent human rights defender of Pakpattan, Punjab province, is under threat of death by the alleged killers of the two women who were killed on the pretext of honour on the accusation of having illicit relationships out of wedlock. The government, courts and police have been informed, but it looks as if the authorities are biding their time and waiting for the attempt to kill her. This is similar to the case of Mr. Rashid Rehman, a human rights defender fighting the case of a professor who was accused of Blasphemy. He was shot dead in his chambers. Mr. Rehman had received threats to his life in a court room before the judge. The judge and the authorities ignored the threats.

Whenever there has hearing of the case in different courts, Ms. Bukhari was threatened in the court premises themselves, that she would be killed in the same manner as the two women. On more than three occasions the alleged killers attacked her chambers and boasted that they were not afraid as the sentence for three women would be the same as that for killing two.

The details of the case which resulted in the threats to her life are as follows:

On 24 February, two young women Ms. Parveen Bibi, 26, and Ms. Shakeela, 17, resident of Chak No. 77/D, Malka Hans, district Pakpattan, Punjab were allegedly poisoned to death on the pretext of hounor killing. They were suspected of having illicit relations out of their marriage.

Ms. Parveen Bibi, the mother of three children, was married to Mansab Ali six years ago while the other woman Ms. Shakeela was the sister of Mansab Ali and married to her cousin just eight months earlier. The husband of Bibi and the closed relatives of the deceased women claim that both the women were having illicit relations with two men, causing shame for the family honour, and at the disclosure of their illicit relations and accusation; they confessed and then committed suicide because of the shame.

However the neighbors and the local community of the same village believe that Mansab Ali, in connivance with other family elders killed his wife and sister by administering them poisonous pills as they doubted their honour. They also informed the police about the death of two women in mysterious circumstances.

The family members of the deceased women were in a rush to bury them in the village graveyard silently but the news of alleged murder spread out. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Muhammad Akram rushed to the village along with the Station House Officer (SHO) of Malka Hans and started inquiring about the incident. During the initial inquiry and investigation of the police the accused husband, Mansab Ali, and other family members were unable to provide satisfactory reason and cause of death. On the suspicious grounds, the police stopped the burial without postmortem.

When the accused and his family felt that the police were not satisfied with the answers provided they panicked. The husband, along with other family members, approached the local politicians from the ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) and some landlords of the area to seek help against the police interference into the matter. The local politicians used their influence and stopped police to further investigate. Later, the police let the family to bury both women without a postmortem.

Meanwhile, after the burial, on the basis of having strong reason of suspicious death of the women, Ms. Munaza Bokhari, the lawyer, intervened and demanded the exhumation of bodies. On the fear of being exposed, the Malka Hans police reported the matter in their daily register on 27th Feb, three days after the murder.

On March 2, Ms. Munaza Bokhari, herself became the complainant and filed a writ petition before the court of local Magistrate Mazhar Fareed for exhuming the bodies and registration of an FIR against the alleged killers. The complainant pleaded to the Magistrate and sought permission for the exhumation of the bodies as she believed that the Deputy Superintendant of Police, Muhammad Ikram and former Station House Officer of the Malka Hans police station, Ashfaq Husain were concealing facts by converting the double murder into suicide. Interestingly, later the the police, just to save itself, also filed a writ petition at the local court for a post-mortem of the bodies.

On 8 March, the court of Magistrate accepted the plea and gave the orders for opening up of the graves on13 April. In the meantime, the police and legal heirs of the two deceased women forced the court that in Islam exhumation of the graves of women is prohibited therefore stopped the exhumation. The lawyer, Ms. Bukhari, after observing the pressure from the politician of the ruling party and the police tilt towards the perpetrators, also filed a petition before the Session Court of Additional Judge Mr. Bashir Choudry, for the exhumation of the bodies to get the cause of the death. The Additional Sessions Court also ordered for exhumation of the graves and fixed the date on April 22 for excavation of the graves. On the date of exhumation all arrangements were made and the magistrate and other court staff and technicians from the government were present at the graves. However, just before the exhumation, the main accused person, Mansab Ali and 19 others filed a petition before the bench of Justice Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah of the Lahore High Court to grant a stay order against the exhumation of the graves. The court without hearing the point of view of other party immediately granted the stay order and the exhumation was stopped until the vacation of the stay order. The High Court single Bench fixed the date of next hearing on April 28, but on the date judge postponed the next hearing for left over, which means when there would be time available from the court’s ’cause list’ the case would be heard.

The lawyer, Ms. Munaza Bukhari, is being followed and whenever she comes in contact with killers they threaten her that if she comes to the next hearing she would be killed.

The alleged killers have no fear of the law and they know how to manipulate with courts and police. They have not only used the police but also obtained help from the High Court as it is commonly known that judges are biased against women in general. Therefore it is an easy matter to get relief from the courts by taking the shelter behind Islam.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The case of Ms. Munaza Bukhari, advocate, is no different from the case of Mr. Rashid Rehman, the lawyer and prominent human rights defender, who was gunned down by unknown persons at his chambers at 8.45 p.m. He had been receiving death threats from the Muslim fundamentalists since February. In the month of April he was threatened in court during the proceedings before the judge by a lawyer, Zulfiqar Sindhu and two other complainants and was warned that from the next hearing he should not defend a Muslim lecturer of Bahawalpur University in a case of Blasphemy. Sindhu actually stated before the judge that Mr. Rehman would be eliminated. The presiding judge remained silent and took no notice of the threats by the bigots who were forcing the judge to sentence the lecturer to death.

The judge of the anti terrorist court totally ignored the threats given from the lawyer before him, the same attitude was shown by the local authorities and police that allowed the killers the freedom to kill in the name of Islam.

In the case of Rashid Rehman the killers knew how to get impunity from courts, police and authorities and they were successful. Until now no one has been arrested and even the Multan district bar association has not taken any action against the lawyer who threatened to kill Rehman before the judge.

Join Parliament Women’s Task Force In Standing With Malala

WOMEN’S TASK FORCE IS STANDING WITH MALALA. WILL YOU?

Via WalkFree.Org and A World At School

Every young person should have the opportunity to learn, but that’s not currently the reality for over 57 million out-of-school children around the world. We know that when children do not have the chance to get an education, conditions are ripe for modern slavery. Instead of going to school, they are forced to work in the streets, fields or mines.

Last October, people across the globe united to send thoughts of hope and love to a brave young girl fighting for her life in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Taliban tried to assassinate Malala Yousafzai because of her strong voice in the fight for women’s rights and youth education. Their gunmen boarded her school bus and shot her in front of her peers — but Malala survived and she hasn’t stopped fighting.

Over the past two weeks, the basic right to education has been under attack around the world – from the school shootings in Nigeria to Pakistan, where 14 young female students were massacred as their bus taking them home from university was blown up by extremist militants. We were once again reminded of the continued need to stand behind Malala and her cause.

On July 12 – less than a year after she was attacked – Malala will mark her 16th birthday by speaking at the UN. She’ll be delivering, to the highest leadership of the UN, a set of education demands written for youth, by youth.

Join us in uniting for Malala – and for girls’ education — once again. 

Sign the letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledging your support to her cause.

Polishing Shoes for Communal Harmony in India and Pakistan

by Sabur Ali Sayyid
from Common Ground News Service

Islamabad – Hunched on the floor of Gurdwara Sis Ganj, a Sikh temple in New Delhi, Khurshid Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General, earnestly polished the shoes of devotees flocking to him either in delight or amazement. To him, polishing shoes served as penance for the brutal killing of a Sikh man at the hands of the Taliban two years prior in Pakistan. Engaging in this lowly act, for him, relieved the burden on his conscience about the problems that minorities face in his region. He believes they deserve a better life, free of intimidation and coercion.

Some may disagree with Khan’s philosophy of redemption. Khan, himself a Muslim, took time out during his visit to India to shine the shoes of devotees at places of worship, regardless of whether they were Sikh houses of worship or Hindu temples. In doing so, he wanted to show his respect for humanity and for other religions.

No one would dispute the fact that communal harmony in South Asia – particularly in India and Pakistan, where each year a large number of people are killed in the name of religion – is far from satisfactory. And no significant progress can take place in this area unless it is backed by the introduction of a multipronged approach to bring about greater communal harmony.

The genesis of Hinduism and Sikhism lies in South Asia. It has been welcoming to Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths, such as Jainism, Taoism and Shintoism. Peaceful coexistence has been a hallmark of this region. Though there have been instances of great strife, this tradition of coexistence is equally a part of the region’s history.

Click here to read the full article

Gift of Blood Ends Pakistani Town’s Bloody History

By Rick Westhead
from Toronto Star

BASTI MAHRAN, PAKISTAN—A single act of kindness, profound because it was so rare and unexpected, transformed this sun-bleached village in a remote corner of the Punjab.

A Hindu man gave his blood to save the life of a Muslim woman who had lost too much in childbirth.

In the seven years since, the 1,600 Muslims and 1,400 Hindus in this town live in peaceful co-existence, extraordinary because sectarian violence has marked the histories of Pakistan and India since the bloody partition of 1947.

“I was afraid, for sure. But it was the right thing to do,” says Bachu Ram, the blood donor. He is smoking a cigarette in the home of a Muslim village elder, who once was so steeped in hatred that he led the charge on the clinic to take Ram’s life.

Hatred and violence once defined life in Basti Mahran. Muslim men routinely raped Hindu girls — “we would have 20 cases a year,” says one local. Muslim men beat Hindus with sticks and fists, seemingly with tacit approval of the local police. Cattle belonging to Hindu families were slaughtered if they strayed too close to Muslim homes.

Mahar Abdul Latif, the host who now pours Ram tea, spent three years during the late 1990s as a member of the extremist religious group Jaish-e-Mohammad. He patrolled the rugged mountain passes and valleys of Kashmir, a region claimed both by India and Pakistan, killing Hindus when they crossed his path.

“I have done much I am ashamed of,” says Latif, a 37-year-old father of three. “But we are friends now. Our kids are friends, too. They study and play together.”

Click here to read the full article and watch the video

September 30th, 2011 at 10:50 am

Interfaith harmony only way to get rid of war on terror

from Daily Times

Interfaith harmony is the only way to get rid of the so-called war on terrorism, said IA Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Friday.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the national peace song at Ali Institute, IA Rehman said that the people belonging to all religions should join hands against extremism. He urged people to create interfaith harmony and ensure protection of their rights and religious freedom.

The event was organised by Giyan Foundation and Heinrich Boll Stifting. A large number of civil society activists, writers, youth and scholars were also present on the occasion. The event was followed by an Interfaith Peace Conference, which was presided over by IA Rehman while Akram Gill was the chief guest. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Country Manager Britta Peterson and Dr Arfa Syeda were also present on the occasion…

Click here to read the full article

July 17th, 2011 at 10:50 am

Islamophobia’s Implications for the United States

by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy and Akbar Ahmed
from Huffington Post

Amid a surging fear of Muslims — Islamophobia — in our nation, it is time for all of us to improve our understanding of Islam and our relationships with Muslims — if not because it is right to do this morally, then because it is in our best interests nationally.

The fact is that we live in a world alongside one and a half billion Muslims, and regardless of the desire of some on the fringes of society, our Muslim neighbors are not going anywhere. A failure to understand this population and its religion is bad enough. Choosing to intentionally demonize those who follow this religion and provoke the anger of the Muslim people qualifies not just as insensibility but insanity.

Click here to read the full article

“National Interfaith Peace Conference” Meets in Islamabad

National Peace and Interfaith ConferenceFrom The Daily Times

ISLAMABAD: The participants of a seminar on Sunday urged all patriotic citizens and leaders belonging to various faiths to join hands for interfaith harmony in order to defeat the anti-state elements.

In a resolution passed unanimously, they condemned the prevalent terrorists activities, against the non-Muslims in particular, and called upon the authorities to nip this trend in the bud to protect the rights of minorities all over the country.

Ministry of Minorities Affairs in collaboration with The Interfaith Council for Peace and Harmony (ICPH) organised the conference titled ‘National Interfaith Peace Conference’ at a local hotel to promote interfaith coexistence.

Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti presided over the function.

The resolutions said Pakistan was a peaceful country and all efforts would be made for the social security of minorities and the elements destabilizing the law and order should be taken to task. “We condemn terror related activities in particular against non-Muslims in Faisalabad, Lahore and everywhere and demand that the government arrest the killers of Iftikhar Gilani’s son,” the resolution said.

The resolution demanded complete protection to sacred places of all religions in the country. “Terrorist attacks on religious places /shrines, schools, hospitals, state institutions, offices of law-enforcement agencies, public and private buildings are the worst example of barbaric act,” it said.

Click here to read the entire article.

July 28th, 2010 at 6:00 am

Union Square Hosts First New York Sufi Music Festival

New York Sufi Music FestivalFrom The New York Times

Hands waved overhead. Voices shouted lyrics and whooped with delight. Children were hoisted onto parents’ shoulders. In the tightly packed crowd a few dancers made room to jump. T-shirts were tossed to fans from the stage.

Yet in the songs that Abida Parveen was singing, saints were praised. They were Islamic saints, the poets and philosophers revered by Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.

It was the first New York Sufi Music Festival, a free three-hour concert on Tuesday in Union Square, and it had music from the four provinces of Pakistan, including traditional faqirs who perform outside temples, Sufi rock and a kind of rapping from Baluchistan.

The concert was presented by a new organization called Pakistani Peace Builders, which was formed after the attempted bombing in Times Square by a Pakistani-American. The group seeks to counteract negative images of Pakistan by presenting a longtime Pakistani Islamic tradition that preaches love, peace and tolerance.

Click here to read the entire article.

July 25th, 2010 at 6:00 am